Janet's Conner

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

BUSH'S VISION MAY COST GOP

Indications are that the party will lose at least one chamber due to grim realities in the Mideast.

By: Dick Polman
August 6, 2006


In the midst of a 19th-century American essayist Raplh Waldo Emerson declared that "events are in the saddle, and ride mankind." It's hard to imagine he would think any differently about today's bloodshed in the Middle East, or about the seeming inability of the world's most powerful leader to seize the reins.

There once was a time, particularly after 9/11, when President Bush was braodly perceived as a man in command of events, a bold salesman for the exportation of freedom, a mold-breaker with a vision of transforming a perpetually volatile region into a laboratory for democracy. Regardless of whether Americans bought his vision, many still believed he possessed the clarity and muscularity that we typically value in a commander-in-chief.

***Until they realized that he was as dumb as a bag of hammers!

But with just 93 days remaining until the '06 congressional elections, there are growing indications that the ruling Republicans on Capitol Hill may well lose at least one chamber---in part because of their alliance with a president whose grand vision threatens to be consumed by the flames in the Middle East. Aside from the staunchiest Bush loyalists, a majority of Americans (particularly independent swing voters) are now telling respected pollsters that they no longer trust his stewardship of foreign policy.


'Guilt by association'

In the words of Larry Sabato, the nonpartisan campaign analyst from Virginia who on Thursday released his latest '06 assessment, "the Republicans are headed for their most serious midterm losses in decades." He senses the strongest anti-incumbent mood since the conservative revolution of 1994, a mood that could "debilitate" the ruling GOP. And the big reason? The GOP's Bush ties, which he calls "guilt by association."

Nevertheless, Republican leaders remain confident that they will prevail, by tapping their traditional party "brand" as the strong stewards of national security. In a speech Friday, party chairman Ken Mehlman insisted that only the GOP could be trusted to effectively wage a global struggle against terror. He argued that the Republicans "recognize that we're at war," as opposed to the Democrats, who would "surrender" on many fronts, starting with Iraq.

***Yeah right! We are approaching the point where most Democrats can't wait to vote, and some Republicans are embarrased about voting. Republicans saying that they are strong stewards on national security is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Especially since the Republicans went behind the backs of the people to give Dubai World Ports a back door entry into controlling U.S. ports that the people were so much against! What about how Bush's D.O.D. ran our military into the ground? What about our borders that Bush wants to let every Tom, Dick and Jose who wants to come here, do just that? This list goes on and on and on. The only ones listening to the Republicans are the right wing nut cases that don't have the common sense to see that Bush and the Republicans are running this country into the ground! Bush's so-called "war of terror" was only put out there so that he could gain war-time privileges! Bush's war on terror isn't working and is causing more and more terrorism across the world!

And Republican pollster David Winston argued the other day that any commander-in-chief still has a valuable advantage in wartime: "Americans want their presidents to succeed, Republican or Democratic, for the good of the country."

***Bush has failed miserably as he has done throughout his entire life. And who gave him the right to do this when it came to running this country like "he" wanted do? THE REPUBLICAN-RUN CONGRESS!

But the overriding qustion this autumn is whether the brand still sells.

Sabato, who earlier this years forsaw only modest Democratic gains in the '06 election, said Friday: "People questioned the Bush administration's competence during Katrina. But now they're starting to question its competence in its traditional areas of strength: foreign policy and national security."


Making world safer

On Wednesday, for instance, in a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll of 1,478 adults, 63% of respondents---and 70% of swing voters---said Bush lacked "a clear policy for dealing with the war on terrorism" and was, instead, merely "reacting to events."

Most tellingly, in the wake of the Israel-Hezbollah hostilities, most Americans now believe that the Bush mission in Iraq has failed to achieve one of its most fundamental goals: making the world safer. On the contrary, 52% told the Times/Bloomberg pollsters that worldwide terrorism had increased because of Iraq; only 5% said it had decreased because of Iraq. The swing-voter ratio was 57% to 3%. Even the conservatives agreed, 46% to 7%.

That's a stunning rejection of the prewar Bush argument that Iraq without Saddam Hussein would make the world safer; three weeks before the 2003 invasion, Bush contended that "a liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform this vital region." And Paul Wolfowitz, a top Pentagon official, envisioned the new Iraq as "a real force for peace and prosperity and progress thoughout the Middle East."

What the latest public sentiment suggests is that voters increasingly perceive Iraq, with its open-ended expenditure of blood (2,586 U.S. military deaths and 18,777 injured as of Friday) and treasure (roughly $300B thus far) as a dead weight on the president's ability to work effectively on the world stage. As a CBS/New York Times sampling of 1,127 adults reported 10 days ago, 69% now believe that Iraq has made it harder for the United States to pursue successful diplomacy elsewhere in the Middle East; only 10% said the war had made it easier.

***Let's not forget about Bush's comments saying that the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq "was only a number!"

Bush, referring to the Middle East, insisted the other day that "progress is being made toward democracies" in Iraq and elsewhere. But his team, and the increasingly skittish Republicans who are up for re-election, can't control the message anymore. Grim realities include: U.S. military leaders testify on Capitol Hill about the growing possibility of a full-scale sectarian civil war; the Shiite majority in the democratically elected Iraqi regime is openly assailing the United States for its alliance with Israel---and forging closer ties with their ethnic bretheren in Iran, pleased that the United States removed Hussein, its longstanding Sunni enemy.

***Bush does nothing but lie to the people! He doesn't know how to do anything else. When he gets caught, he just dissociates himself from the situation. His mind goes blank. Just like it did when he was told that the towers were just hit in New York. He has a sickness that won't let things sink in. That's what makes him such a dangerous president. He does only what others tell him to do. Why do you think that the RNC picked him to be president? He's not running this country. They knew how stupid he was and would do what they tell him to do! Bush is only a front. If he were to run this country alone, do you really think that the RNC would have chosen him? They laugh at his stupidity!

The latter development is a stark reversal of the Bush team's fondest prewar hopes and dreams. In early 2003, the neoconservatives war planners envisioned a pro-American Iraq that would join ranks with Jordan and Egypt and officially recognize Israel.

***Our so-called pro-American allies are starting to back off of Bush because they realized how powerful Hezbollah has become and are afraid thet they will be next!

Most public-opinion experts don't believe that average Americans pay close attention to the nuances of foreign policy, much less the evolution of the neoconservatives' Middle East vision; rather, these experts say that most people, understandably distracted by their everyday concerns, tend to make visceral judgement based on the flow of events. On that basis, Bush and the Republicans are incurring serious political damage.

"It's the feeling of 'nothing seems to be working,' and 'things seem to be getting worse,' and 'Bush's policies just don't add up,' said Steven Kull, who directs the nonpartisan Program on International Policy Attitudes, which studies public opinion of foreign affairs. "People aren't blaming him for Israel and Hezbollah, as such, but they know he hasn't taken the lead in resolving it, and that feeds their overall perception that his foreign-policy vision isn't working anymore."

There is little evidence, that the Bush administration intends to change course or alter its message before Election Day. In recent remarks, he has hewed to his longstanding argument that America should be engaged in a global war on terrorism, with essentially no distinctions between 9/11 terrorist (al-Qaeda); terrorists whose concerns appear to be more regional (Hezbollah, a Shiite group; Hamas, a Sunni group); and the nations that encourage or support them (Syria, Iran).

Leaving aside whether the United States can afford such a crusade, given its military and financial investment in Iraq, many foreign-policy experts say the administration needs to become more flexible. If we lump all these terrorist groups together, they argue, then these groups will be more likely to find common cause against us. And by refusing to talk to Syria, because of its ties to some terrorists groups, we arguably cut off a potential option for defusing the current Middle East crisis.

The status quo, in other words, is the GOP's Achilles' heel in 2006. The Democrats poised to reap the rewards---by default, actually, because they aren't inspiring the populace, either. But the Democrats, at least, won't have to answer for a president who said the other day, referring to the current crises, "It's an interesting period."


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